The skin is a first-line defense barrier and works very similarly to the gut in terms of protecting our internal health from the external environment. The gut and skin are both complex immune organs that have a community of microbes that govern the state of their health. The role that the gut plays in the health of our skin is multifaceted, however it can be broken down into a few simple areas: microbiome health, nutrient absorption, and waste elimination.
The gut microbiome is in constant communication with our skin microbiome. The gut microbiome helps to protect our skin’s microbiome by influencing our immune system, levels of inflammation and nutrient absorption. If our gut microbiome falls into a dysbiotic state (i.e. imbalanced microbiome) this can manifest on the skin. Additionally, when there is a higher prevalence of “bad” bugs in our gut, this can negatively impact our hormone levels (such as creating an excess of Oestrogen) which can further disrupt the skin.
Nutrient intake and absorption plays an essential role in the quality and health of our skin. Our skin requires certain nutrients from our diet to maintain its integrity. Our gut plays a major role in the absorption of nutrients. If there are any interruptions to our gut health, this can consequently disrupt the gut’s ability to digest nutrients, leading to a reduction in skin repair and barrier function.
One of the main roles of our gut is to process our food, move it through the digestive tract, and then into the colon for elimination. Moving your bowels once a day is ideal for healthy elimination. If this transit time is slow, then our body’s ability to process and eliminate waste, toxins, pathogens, and hormones is affected. This can cause toxins and waste to reabsorb into the body, which requires the toxins be eliminated elsewhere (ex. the skin) and can disrupt the skin’s health.
The skin optimally performs its functions - like protecting, regulating temperature, retaining water, and more - when in a state of homeostasis. When our gut is not functioning properly, then the health of the microbiome, our body’s ability to eliminate waste, and our ability to properly absorb nutrients is compromised. This in turn directly impacts the gut-skin axis, ergo, the quality of our skin.